Blogs - Blogs
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fact Check: EPA Spin on Water Rule is 180 from Actual Language
In March 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) released their proposed "waters of the United States" rule, which would significantly expand the federal government's authority over small streams, ditches, ponds, floodplains, and other areas where water may flow.

In recent weeks, the Obama Administration's proposed "waters of the United States" rule, as well an accompanying interpretive rule for normal agricultural activities, have been publicly criticized. Even EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has gone on the record admitting,

"I have never proposed anything that I thought would be so well-received as this that has fallen totally flat on its face." EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking before the Kansas City Agribusiness Council on July 10, 2014

EPA claims that their regulatory proposals do not affect various types of waterbodies. However, the text of the proposals demonstrates that EPA either doesn't understand the language they drafted, or they are intentionally trying to mislead the American public. Below are six specific claims made by EPA, all of which are refuted by language in the rule.

EPA claims that the proposal:

• Does not regulate new types of ditches

o But the rule says: For the first time, the proposed rule explicitly includes ditches unless they fall within one of two exceptions based on location and flow. Many ditches throughout the country will be unable to meet the rule's limited exemption provision and thus will become subject to federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction under the rule, contrary to the Agencies' claims.

• Does not regulate activities on land

o But the rule says: Under the CWA federal jurisdiction extends to "navigable waters" which are defined as the "waters of the United States." Water bodies deemed "waters of the United States" are subject to permitting mandates, federal enforcement mechanisms, mitigation procedures, and citizen suits. A wide variety of activities on land require permits when they impact a "water of the United States" including, home building and construction, agriculture, ranching, and mining. The CWA does not provide a guaranteed right to a permit and if an applicant is denied, that individual or business will be unable to move forward with the planned project, thus allowing the EPA and Corps to essentially dictate the list of permissible land use activities afforded a particular landowner.

• Does not apply to groundwater

o But the rule says: The rule claims to exclude groundwater, but language in the rule also states a waterbody may be a "water of the United States" if it has a "shallow subsurface hydrological connection" to other jurisdictional waters. This language suggests that Agencies may intend to use groundwater as a basis for CWA jurisdiction.

• Does not affect stock ponds

o But the rule says: If a stock pond is natural or used for purposes other than those listed by EPA, the stock pond could be considered a "water of the United States." The rule says that ponds are exempt only if they are "artificial" and used "exclusively" for stock watering, irrigation, settling basins, or rice growing.

• Does not require permits for normal farming activities, like moving cattle

o But the rule says: More farming activities will require CWA permits under the agencies' interpretive rule for normal agricultural activities. Included in the interpretive rule is a "prescribed grazing" requirement, so that if the federal government doesn't like the way a rancher grazes cattle, they can force the rancher to either obtain a Clean Water Act permit or pay up to $37,500 per day in fines.

• Does not regulate puddles

o But the rule says: The actual text of the rule is so sweeping that virtually any wet area could potentially be considered a "water of the United States." Under the rule, small and isolated waterbodies may be considered a "water of the United States" when, in combination with other similarly situated waters, they have a significant nexus to a traditional navigable water. This provides no effective limit to federal regulatory authority and will encourage litigious environmental groups to sue property owners no matter the supposed intentions of EPA. In fact, certain environmental groups are already using the rule's language to bring citizen suits based on the broad authority provided, and there's little reason to doubt that puddles could attract abusive litigation in the near future if the rule is finalized.

Sen. Vitter and the EPW Republicans have been actively engaged with EPA and the Corps since the "waters of the U.S." rule was released. They have been concerned with how the rule would impact the economy and affect private property rights.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

ICYMI: Vitter Op-Ed "President Obama is giving America the John Beale style of government"
Washington Examiner "President Obama is giving America the John Beale style of government"
If there's one takeaway from the John Beale saga, it's that our federal bureaucracy has grown far too powerful, and there's not nearly enough oversight and transparency to keep it in check.

We should all question how Beale became a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency and played a major role in policy decisions, while pulling off a scam I thought only Hollywood could make up.

The Beale I'm talking about is the guy now in jail for stealing nearly $1 million dollars. The same guy who for over a decade conned the EPA into believing he was a CIA agent.

Three decades ago, without any relevant experience, Beale was hired in a position at the EPA to help develop a costly regulatory agenda that reverberates throughout our economy today.

While Beale was stealing taxpayer dollars, he was also putting in place a system to hide scientific data and shield costly regulations from legitimate scrutiny.

Where was the accountability, the leadership or responsibility of EPA's top brass when his scheme was exposed? There wasn't any. He was allowed to retire with full benefits despite his scam.

The growth of the executive branch, the regulatory onslaught it facilitates and the Beale style of abuse that goes undetected for years is scary.

But what's worse is the growing ability for the Obama administration to go around Congress and make up its own rules without any checks or balances.

The expanded power given to federal employees has been referred to as the "fourth branch" of government. The growth of this fourth branch has led to increasing power and independence for nameless federal bureaucrats.

Far too many laws are no longer passed by Congress. Instead, bureaucrats are writing and implementing new regulations. Six years into the Obama administration, they're producing an average of 10 new regulations a day.

Many people fault Congress for failing to hold the executive branch accountable, and I agree - blame is appropriate.

The U.S. Senate, controlled by Obama's Democratic party, refuses to conduct any meaningful oversight of the executive branch and outright ignores the opportunity to pass or negotiate on any major legislation with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

In fact, the committee on which I serve as ranking minority member, the Environment and Public Works Committee with jurisdiction over the EPA, has completely failed in its oversight obligations.

Thank goodness the Republican-led House is taking oversight action and shedding light on how Beale helped develop a system to shield agency action from scrutiny. Beale's creation sets a dangerous precedent that's contagious throughout federal government.

Taking advantage of the lack of oversight, Obama is intentionally expanding the fourth branch. A logical assumption is that under the Constitution, we can turn to the courts.

But the judicial branch is just as much to blame. By giving federal agencies broad deference, the judges are allowing government bureaucrats to interpret the law as they see fit. The judicial branch is not holding bureaucrats accountable for violating laws passed by Congress.

Just this week, we saw exactly that. After the Supreme Court decision on whether the EPA went beyond their scope of authority as mandated by the Clean Air Act, it's clear to me that the courts are still providing the agencies too much deference.

It's also clear to me the EPA is violating their internal guidelines, and I hope - sooner than later - the courts will actually decide the EPA cannot just make up data and science as they go.

Beale's work on major air quality standards during the 1990's memorialized the definition of the fourth branch.

Beale pushed through the standards without any regard for scientific integrity or transparency. Along the way, he helped hide scientific data and critical analysis and provided cover for inflated benefits claims, creating an "ends justifies the means" mentality that endures today at EPA.

As a reward, EPA's top officials deferred to Beale's judgment and allowed him to wander through the vast bureaucracy and commit fraud for decades, during Democrat and Republican presidential administrations.

Congress has passed laws that agencies are supposed to comply with, including the Information Quality Act, which requires standards for scientific work product; the Federal Records Act, which requires agency staff to retain all records of work-related communications; the Freedom of Information Act, which requires agencies to comply with public requests for information; and the Data Access Act, which requires all federally funded data to be made publicly available.

A violation of any one of these should be enough to invalidate certain agency action. Yet the courts, through deference, repeatedly allow such violations.

Beale's work on air standards proves that with the emergence of the fourth branch an official deep within an agency as large as EPA can violate each of these laws.

This is facilitated when the legislative branch's fails to do appropriate oversight and the judicial branch gives unreserved deference despite such violations. This is where we suffer the true impacts of the fourth branch.

The executive branch was never intended to be so big or bloated that it needn't follow mandated rules. Agency employees like those at EPA were never intended to act as their own branch of government.

They should be reminded that they're part of the executive branch - one of the three - and not an individual fourth.

Sen. David Vitter is the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sen. Vitter Statement Before House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform "Management Failures: Oversight of EPA"
Guest Witness Senator David Vitter (R-La.) Summary Statement: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “Management Failures: Oversight of EPA”
Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings - thank you for inviting me to testify before your Committee today about Management Failures: Oversight of the EPA. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I have a responsibility to oversee the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unfortunately, under the current leadership in the Senate, our committee has yet to hold a single oversight hearing on this matter - contending that a perfunctory Member's briefing was sufficient. That is why your work and your efforts are incredibly important. While there are some serious policy debates about the Agency and its role in regulating our energy supply, that is not what I am here to discuss or what today's hearing is about. Rather, my testimony will focus on my work over the last year that has uncovered what appears to be a systematic breakdown in EPA operations that have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. I am pleased to have this opportunity today to share my findings alongside my colleague from the Environment and Public Works Committee.

In July 2013, I was contacted by a whistleblower who described serious and systematic time and attendance problems at the EPA. Some of these problems involved situations where senior EPA managers discouraged remedial action against chronic offenders because it was easier to ignore the problem than fix it. Based on this information I requested the EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) brief me on the time and attendance problems they were investigating at the Agency. I was expecting an account of the instances reported by the whistleblower, but instead I learned the bizarre tale of John Beale - the fake CIA agent who pled the 5th in this hearing room.

When we made the Beale saga public, I was aware of the underlying symptoms of abuse going on at the Agency. Therefore, it was immediately apparent to me that the Agency's claim that Beale was a "lone wolf" was completely false and that anyone who argued he was a solo actor was glossing over the truth. Since then, I have been focused on uncovering the circumstances and management weaknesses that allowed Beale's fraud to continue for so long - literally for decades. These management failures have facilitated wasting millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars and undermined congressional oversight.

In August 2013, I requested the OIG immediately launch an investigation into the Agency's policies and process that facilitated Beale's fraud, and to make recommendations to ensure this never happens again. When the OIG issued reports in December 2013 on Beale's travel and pay issues, the findings were scant and prompted more questions, such as who knew or should have known what Beale was up to and when did they first have reason to believe Beale was defrauding the Agency. So I asked the OIG to "show their work." My staff then poured through all of the OIG's supporting documentation and interview notes in hopes of answering these key questions. The results of our review were the subject of a series of memoranda issued in February and March of this year, which are attached to my written testimony today.

The key findings of these memoranda include:

1. Beale could not have accomplished his massive fraud without assistance, knowingly or unknowingly, from former and current EPA officials who have not been held accountable.

2. One of the key facilitators of Beale's fraud was Deputy Administrator Perciasepe, who signed key documents and contributed to the delay in reporting Beale to the OIG.

3. The timeline offered by EPA and the OIG that concluded Administrator McCarthy was the first person to report suspicions of Beale is suspect.

4. Other EPA employees had an opportunity to be proactive and should have done more to prevent the fraud, but chose to defer to senior officials rather than report their concerns to the OIG.

In addition to these memoranda, my investigation went beyond Beale's monetary fraud and uncovered a plethora of questionable, but lasting, policymaking decisions Beale made during his tenure at EPA, which were detailed in a Committee report issued in March titled EPA's Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit and Secret Science.

I acknowledge Beale's fraud stretched through several Administrations, both Republican and Democratic, and that it is easy to second guess their actions with the benefit of hindsight. However, this does not change the fact that many individuals at EPA had knowledge, or were willfully ignorant, of Beale's ongoing fraud. These individuals have never been held accountable. I also accept that not every EPA employee is a bad apple and that we have dedicated public servants working long hours to protect our air and our water. However - when an agency is in the process of aggressively expanding its jurisdiction and regulating something as significant as our energy supply, they have a keen responsibility to make sure that their own house is in order. Regretfully, EPA's house is not.

Aside from the case of Beale, I have learned more about the dysfunction of the EPA - again - thanks to courageous whistleblowers. As an example, a whistleblower informed my staff that there was a dispute between the Office of Homeland Security and the OIG. When I learned of the dispute, I was immediately struck by the "coincidence" that the same actors who delayed providing the OIG with critical information about Beale were the same individuals involved in an altercation with the OIG investigator. We now know there are additional instances where EPA employees refused to cooperate with OIG investigations, and received no reprimand. I understand that as recently as yesterday - this issue remains unresolved.

Because of our joint efforts, a veil has been pulled back revealing that wasted taxpayer resources and mismanagement permeates the Agency. Given that much of our efforts to uncover waste, fraud, and abuse at the Agency derive from the voice of undaunted whistleblowers, I encourage additional concerned EPA staff to come forward at any juncture. We can work together to reform and rehabilitate the troubled agency. As my testimony today demonstrates - representatives in Congress do listen and do take action based on information you provide.

In closing, I would like to commend this Committee for taking issues of waste, fraud, and abuse at the EPA seriously and for holding today's hearing. I believe that as Congressional investigators, many of you instinctively knew that there was more to the story than what the Agency represented to the public and Congress. Those instincts were correct. John Beale and his crimes were just the tip of the iceberg.


Monday, June 23, 2014

ICYMI: Vitter Op-Ed "Time to Update Decades-Old Red Snapper Fishery Allocations"
Houma Courier Op-Ed: Protecting red snapper fishing
This weekend, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, penned an op-ed in the Houma Courier regarding the outdated red snapper fishery allocations in the Gulf of Mexico and the Regional Fishery Management Council's (RFMC) various options to update it.

Today marks the first of the RFMC's week-long public council meetings, during which the Members will continue their consideration of Amendment 28, a proposal of six options for updating allocations levels of allowable catch of red snapper beyond the historical high level of 9.12 million pounds.

Vitter originally requested Amendment 28 be considered during the nomination process for Dr. Kathryn Sullivan to be the Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Click here to read more.

In April 2013, Vitter introduced legislation that would extend state's offshore jurisdiction and would put states in charge of red snapper management. Click here to read more.

Houma Courier
Op-Ed: Protecting red snapper fishing
Sen. David Vitter
June 21, 2014

Like many of you, I was born and raised in Louisiana. And when you grow up in such a beautiful state, you develop an innate appreciation for Louisiana's abundant natural resources. That appreciation takes many forms - from a love of fishing to a sense of obligation to conserve our state's resources. We all share a responsibility to conserve these resources but also to protect our public access to them. And when it comes to fishing in the Gulf, there needs to be a mutual respect between the recreational anglers and commercial fishermen.

Gulf fishermen are an economic powerhouse for both Louisiana and the entire Gulf region, which makes protecting the public's access to these resources even more important. The group responsible for overseeing our fisheries and protecting this access is the Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Council.

But this group, supposedly dedicated to fairly managing our fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, continues to chip away at the rights of recreational anglers - particularly with access to the red snapper fishery. The RFMC is in place to protect the interests of the public, but some members of the Council continue to attack the recreational sector and end up doing the exact opposite. In fact, I have serious concerns that certain members are working to protect just a handful of fishermen. It seems like they're giving permanent access to public resources to a select few at the expense of the vast majority of fishermen.

Right now there are over 4 million recreational anglers, including charter boats, all the way from Florida to Texas, and nearly 400 commercial red snapper fishermen. However, the Gulf Council weighs the priorities of the few over the public. This was clearly seen in a recent decision to shorten the 2014 recreational season - from 40 days to 11 days. Then in May, the season was further reduced to only nine days. That shortens the red snapper season in federal waters by over a month. Now, I certainly understand the need to find a balance in allotment for recreational and commercial, but this recent decision was unnecessarily extreme.

The current allocation for the red snapper fishery - which hasn't been updated in over 24 years - is set at 51 percent commercial and 49 percent recreational. These percentages are based on data from 30 years ago when the stock was at an historic low. Since then the stock has greatly increased, yet the allocation levels have stayed the same.

For the livelihoods of Gulf Coast anglers and businesses that rely on the red snapper fishery, updating the outdated recreational allocation quotas is an urgent issue. That's why I have put my full support behind a solution - the so called "Amendment 28" and preferred "option 5." Both are currently awaiting approval by the council.

Adopting these provisions would maintain the current allocations if the red snapper quota is less than or equal to 9.12 million pounds. However, if the quota exceeds the 9.12 million pound mark, allocation levels would change with 75 percent of the excess amount to the recreational sector and 25 percent to the commercial sector. Further, Amendment 28 now includes measures to ensure accountability within the recreational sector, an inclusion that the commercial sector has been demanding for years. This fair compromise would demonstrate the Council's sincerity in promoting conservationism and trusting their own studies that show our recreational anglers contribute to the region.

As a Senator for the great state of Louisiana, I have the opportunity to work with the National Marine Fishery Service and keep a watchful eye on the Gulf Council. This is important because many families and jobs are affected by the Council's actions. The council should adhere to the highest standards of transparency and accountability with each decision they make.

But I'm just one voice - the council needs to hear from you. The public comment period for Amendment 28 and preferred option 5 is currently open, and you can submit your thoughts at There is also an opportunity to voice your opinions in person at the upcoming council meeting in Key West, Fla., on Monday.

Hopefully, the council will recognize that these solutions will most help the very people they were appointed to represent. Recreational anglers in the Gulf deserve a fair shot at what should be a shared resource. The council's actions and their decision needs to be based on sound science and fairness. It will affect economies, livelihoods, and our way of life across in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter is the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ICYMI: Economist: “Consumers will pay more for electricity” under Power Plant Rule
During today's Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing entitled, "Climate Change: The Need to Act Now," Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) discussed the impact of the President's recently announced rule on existing power plants will have on jobs and economic growth with Dr. Joseph Mason of Louisiana State University.

Dr. Mason responded, "To the extent the consumers in these States derive energy from plants in those States, again, those consumers will pay more for their electricity....We're getting to a level of policy implementation that is orders of magnitude greater than anything we've done before."

Earlier this month, Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced new regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants as part of the President's Climate Action Plan. This rule is expected to have a less than 2% impact on carbon emissions reductions because it will not impact the world's largest carbon emitters like China, India, and Russia. However, the rule will result in less reliable electricity with much higher prices on all Americans. Additionally, the rule encourages States to enter into cap-and-trade agreements, yet the rule does not detail how the transactions would be made. Click here to read a letter from 41 Senate Republicans asking President Obama to withdraw the cap-and-trade rule.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ICYMI: Former EPA Administrators Disagree with Obama Statement on Climate
In 2012, President Obama made a public statement about global temperatures that has since been proved to be untrue (here and here):

"We can't attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily -- there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe." (November 14, 2012 White House News Conference)

During today's Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing entitled, "Climate Change: The Need to Act Now," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the Subcommittee's top Republican, asked four former Administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to raise their hand if they agreed with President Obama's statement. None of the four witnesses raised their hand, and all remained silent.

Sen. Sessions: "So, I would ask each of our former [EPA] Administrators if any of you agree that is an accurate statement [from President Obama] on climate. So if you do, raise your hand. Thank you. The record will reflect no one raised their hands."

Click here to watch Sen. Sessions question the former EPA Administrators.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fact Check: Two Former EPA Administrators Agree U.S. Action Alone Will Not Impact Global Climate Change
During today's Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing entitled, "Climate Change: The Need to Act Now," the Honorable William Reilly, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in his testimony:

"Absent action by China, Brazil, India and other fast-growing economies, what we do alone will not suffice." (June 18, 2014 Testimony before the Senate EPW Committee)

In 2009, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said: "I believe the central parts of the [EPA] chart are that U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels." (July 7, 2009 Testimony before the Senate EPW Committee)

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the Chairman of the China's Advisory Committee on Climate Change, He Jiankun, announced that China is planning to begin capping their C02 emissions. However, the day after Jiankun's announcement, he backtracked and said his words were his personal opinion and not representative of the Chinese government. Currently, China is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter and has no official plans to cap their greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to read more about China's carbon plan.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fact Check on EPA's Power Plant Proposal
During today's Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing entitled, "Climate Change: The Need to Act Now," the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said in her testimony:

"There is, of course, honest disagreement about aspects of the Agency's power plant proposal, including whether it may be stretching its legal authority a bit too far in some parts of the proposed rule."

According to the Attorney General for the State of Alabama, Luther Strange, EPA is clearly going beyond their authority.

"The Clean Air Act forbids regulating sources under Section 111(d) if they are regulated under section 112 of the Act....EPA has also improperly attempted to limit section 111(d)'s express statutory delegation of authority to the States." (June 18, 2014 Testimony before the Senate EPW Committee)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement for Subcommittee Hearing on Climate Change
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety “Climate Change: The Need to Act Now”
Thank you, Subcommittee Chairman Whitehouse, for convening today's hearing. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses here today: Dr. Daniel Botkin; Dr. Joseph Mason; and the Honorable Luther Strange. The science, economic consequences, and legal underpinnings of the EPA's actions to advance the President's Climate Action Plan are topics the Administration does not want us to discuss. However, their unilateral actions will increase America's electricity bills, decrease a family's disposable income, and result in job losses for little or no measurable impact on our ever changing climate.

On June 2, EPA proposed an unprecedented rule targeting our country's electricity system. Using a provision in the Clean Air Act that has only been used 5 times in 40 years, EPA goes beyond the boundaries of the power plant and requires States to set performance standards that apply to the entire electricity system, mandating renewable energy and rationing energy on which families and businesses rely. EPA argues this rule is a gift to States, that it provides States with the flexibility to create a program that works for them. In reality, though, the term "flexibility" is a red herring - States are forced into achieving questionable emission reduction targets from a limited menu of economically-damaging and legally questionable options. States are left little choice but to join or create regional cap-and-trade programs, which achieves the Administration's goal of making sure we all pay more for energy. Electricity prices in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states and California are 45% more than in my home state of Louisiana. 56% of Louisiana families spend an average of 21% of their after-tax income on energy. They simply cannot afford the higher electricity bills that will inevitably result from this rule.

The rule is billed as climate change mitigation, with America leading the way. Unfortunately, anyone who has actually read the 645-page rule, as well as its multiple technical support documents, finds it has no material effect on global average temperature or sea level rise. The majority of the benefits touted by EPA come from double-counting reductions of other emissions already regulated through other measures. While this Administration expects other governments to consider the global effects of their greenhouse gas emissions when regulating - just as they did when creating the "black box" social cost of carbon estimates used to justify costly regulations - there is absolutely no reason to presume the world's biggest emitters will follow us down the path of economic destruction.

While extreme claims made over the last three decades about the devastating impacts of global warming failed to come true, empirical evidence does show us that the Earth's climate has, is, and always will be changing. Recently, many of the extreme weather claims being made were found to be without merit. Testimony previously provided to the Committee found that the historical record does not indicate that hurricanes, floods, and tornados have increased in number or intensity. In fact the models upon which temperature increase and sea level rise predictions rely are rife with uncertainty. What has come true is the economic calamity that befalls nations that head down the path President Obama unilaterally selected for America. It provides us a window into our future - and it looks bleak. Our friends in Europe adopted similar carbon constraining frameworks, filled with government mandates and cronyism, and were rewarded with economic meltdown. In an effort to recover, Germany is lifting its ban on fracking and increasing the use of coal, while Spain is abandoning the handouts that supported its renewable energy program. Instead of embracing our domestic energy resources and the bright economic light they provide in our otherwise dismal economy, the President's Climate Action Plan moves us beyond coal, and eventually beyond natural gas, which they characterize as a bridge fuel.

The burden of proof lies with the Administration and its allies to provide the specifics as to how we can power our future with wind, waves and solar-and how we can do it, as they claim we can, quickly and without any cost to the consumer or the broader economy. It's one thing to call for, as some have, moving to "100 percent renewable energy in 10 years." But the problem is, those who have actually done the math, and examined the details, whether it's the Energy Information Administration, the International Energy Agency, or even the IPCC, find that they can't avoid this inescapable fact: fossil fuels and nuclear will continue to meet demand for electricity for decades to come. There's simply no way around it, because coal, natural gas and nuclear are abundant, affordable, and reliable. If we deny this and pursue the pie-in-the-sky path of the Administration and environmental groups, we will end up like Europe.

Today, the American electricity system provides affordable reliable power 7 days a week, 365 days a year to families, schools, hospitals, and businesses. The existing source rule as proposed will increase costs to all consumers, especially the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes for no material effect on climate change. In reality, this rule is essentially a federal takeover of the American electricity system. Is everyone here comfortable with the EPA being responsible for our electricity system?

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement for Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on EPA's Superfund Program
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Oversight “Protecting Taxpayers and Ensuring Accountability: Faster Superfund Cleanups for Healthier
Thank you, Subcommittee Chairman Booker, for convening today's hearing. In this committee we often do not conduct the appropriate level of oversight, particularly of EPA and the programs it administers, so I appreciate you scheduling this important hearing.

According to EPA figures, Louisiana has 26 Superfund sites. These sites are an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, all of which can be found on the National Priorities List. Ensuring that these sites are cleaned up expeditiously is of great interest to both me and the people of Louisiana.

It seems clear to me that there has been widespread fraud, waste, and abuse by the EPA, and our number one priority as the committee of jurisdiction over the Agency should be to curtail these abuses and ensure that, at a time when Americans are forced to operate on tighter budgets, our government refrains from improperly wasting their hard-earned tax dollars.

One telling example of this kind of waste within EPA's vast bureaucracy is demonstrated by the Superfund program itself. Just yesterday, the EPA Inspector General found that EPA Region 9 improperly paid a contractor more than $1.5 million in additional profit for Superfund cleanup services.

It is rather ironic that the EPA and advocates for this administration complain about the lack of funding for the Superfund program when this program's shortcomings are based on a lack of leadership, poor resource management, and ineffective bureaucracy.

Luckily, within the Superfund context, this Administration has made clear that there is not a direct correlation between the amount of money in the Superfund Trust Fund and the Agency's ability to clean up future projects. In a July 2009 GAO report, EPA plainly stated that "the balance in the Superfund Trust Fund does not affect the funds available for current or future annual appropriations. Therefore, it cannot serve as a reliable indicator to responsible parties of EPA's ability to fund future cleanup actions."

As a matter of fact, this Administration accomplished fewer superfund cleanups in 2009 - a year during which they received $600 million in stimulus money - than any single year of the entire George W. Bush Administration. While the number of cleanups accomplished in 2009 was 20, even more disappointing is EPA's goal for the coming years, aiming to complete 15 sites in 2014 and only 13 in 2015.

I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure EPA is following the letter of the law and operating its programs in ways that provide meaningful environmental and health benefits, but I am concerned that we are again about to embark down the partisan path of implementing punitive taxes on specific industries that some choose to demonize.

Under current Superfund law, in a vast majority of instances the polluter already pays. Responsible parties are either required to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanups under the program. Other cleanups are funded by appropriations designed specifically for this program.

Implementing a blanket tax against domestic manufacturing or industries, such as refining, does not ensure the "polluter pays" - instead it ensures that our national competitiveness is diminished regardless of a company's involvement. And this is at a time when our national competitiveness is about to take a major hit from the President's newly proposed cap-and-trade program.

Thank you again, Subcommittee Chairman Booker, for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to learning about the ways we can improve the Superfund Program from the witnesses.


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